K Computer: 10 Petaflops is Tops

Petaflop is a word that always gets my attention. Stumbled upon a truly outstanding story from Gizmodo's Andrew Tarantola today on Japan's K supercomputer. K, by the way, is short for the Japanese word kei — that means 10 quadrillion. Why 10 quadrillion? That's the numerical goal engineers have set for how many calculations the K Computer will do per second. Wow! 

The K supercomputer just got a bit quicker–boosting its computational output to 10.5 quadrillion calculations per second and making it the speediest number-crunching system on the planet.

The K Computer was built by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MoMESST) in conjunction with the Fujitsu Corporation and specifically aimed towards breaking the 10 petaflop barrier.

It employs processing clusters of over 88,000 specially-designed HPC Fujitsu SPARC64 VIIIfx chips as well as 864 server racks to perform its computational feats. The K currently resides at Fujitsu's RIKEN lab in Kobe, Japan.

According to industry benchmarks, the K computer is performing at 93 percent efficiency. However, given that it burned through $9.89 million of electricity yearly when it ran at just one petaflop, I'd rather not see the lab's current utility bill. [Wired]

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